dyslexic friendly coloured ledger for teaching?

• Nov 11, 2015 - 11:33

Hi :)

Does anyone know if I can add colours to piano lessons I'm designing for a dyslexic child?

I'm thinking in particular of composing on a ledger with each line a different colour of the rainbow to start with.



In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Thanks Jojo,
this is good to know but I have been told that ledger lines of colour help for dyslexia so I would like to start with just the ledger line of colour.

I hope that he will eventually be able to read the music without the help of colour, so hopefully this detail will help initially.

In reply to by Shoichi

Thanks Shoichi!

I tried it but could only make all lines the same colour. How did you get these lines to have their own colours....???

I see I can also make them all invisible with this properties inspector and then find a work around using photoshop. A bit of a long way around so I'm very curious how you did this :)

In reply to by Shoichi

Dear Shoichi,

Thank you for this!
I did manage to understand it now. It's a very good work around!
My menu didn't have just the plain line. I'm using 2.0.2.

I also see that the lines now sit on top of the notes so this might not work to make the music look clearer for him, but I can find a work around to make the notes black again with photoshop.

After trying your example I'm also thinking that I should try colouring the notes themselves and see how that looks, since the inspector will do this easily.

In reply to by marsca

@ marsca, I took inspiration from here: https://musescore.org/en/node/94821#new
To every bar, from the palette, I add a line;
From Inspector I will increase the "thickness";
Click on the line, from Inspector imposed the color. I change the value of the box Alpha Channel (0 = transparent 255 = opaque).
It seems like a viable option (also for "analysis"), waiting it become an official feature.
I attach an example (HTH)

Attachment Size
16th note.mscz 51.14 KB

In reply to by Shoichi

Hi again Shoichi :)
Thank you for your description and example.
This is useful to know but the colour still lays on top of the notes, and as far as I can tell it's not possible to decrease only the line width - the length decreases proportionately.
It does seem like this could become a feature though.
Best wishes, M

In reply to by Shoichi

This is exactly what I want to do on the staff for my beginning piano students. I want to make the 2nd line green and lines 3, 4, and 5 light grey. What are the specific steps to change the individual line colors like in your illustration above? Thanks for any help!

In reply to by Treble65

There were a few more ways that people came up with.
If you check the posts by musikai near the bottom of this thread you can find an excellent tool including instructions he made.
It opens an interactive word document where you can choose the colour and thickness of each line and then it executes the change at the press of a button :)
I'm always interested in teaching tips and curious why you want that specific colouring?

In reply to by Isaac Weiss

Ah, well spotted. Did it in a rush as dinner was ready. For what it's worth, I created SIX staves, the top 5 of which have only one line, each with a different colour and with the line spacing set to 0.5. The bottom has the usual 5 lines. Notes are entered on the bottom stave, spacing between staves is set to 0 in Style ->General ->Page (there is still 0.5 point space for each line in a stave for the top 5 and the default of 1.0 for the bottom stave). The bottom stave lines are then hidden, as are the rests in the other 5 staves, and the notes from the bottom stave selected and moved vertically upwards to lie on top of the coloured staves. A lot of effort, though. It also falls apart a bit when notes require to be on ledger lines.

Attachment Size
Colored_Staves.mscz 8.41 KB

In reply to by marsca

It is not at all straightforward but is, rather, an elaborate workaround for your particular situation. You are unlikely to ever see this in the Handbook. It has its limitations (ledger lines being one of them) and it is difficult (not impossible; very few things are impossible) to edit once done.

I have simplified (? how accurate is that term?) the way that I did it and I may well have missed out some important steps:

Create a score with 6 staves - lets number them 1 to 6 from the top down.
Right-click on Stave 1 ->Stave Properties
-> Lines: reduce to 1
-> Show clef: untick
-> Show time signature: untick
-> Show barlines: untick
-> Stave line colour: click the coloured bar and set the colour
Remove (make blank) Long and Short instrument names

Repeat for Staves 2, 3, 4 and 5 with different colours for each.

Ensure that Menu ->View ->Show invisible is ticked (you need to be able hide things for printing but to be able to see, on-screen, what you are changing)

Enter your music into Stave 6
Only once you have entered all your music music, do the following:

Right-click on any rest ->Select ->All Similar Elements
From Inspector, untick the Visible checkbox

Right-click on Stave 6 ->Stave Properties
Extra distance above stave: set to 0
Invisible stave lines: tick

From the menu ->Style ->General ->Page, set Stave distance to 0

Right-click on the any clef in Stave 6 ->Select ->All Similar Elements in Same Stave
In Inspector, set the Vertical offset to -4.00

Right-click on any rest from Stave 6 ->Select ->All Similar Elements in Same Stave
In Inspector, set the Vertical offset to -4.00
Set the Visible box to ticked

Right-click on any note in Stave 6 ->Select ->All Similar Elements in Same Stave
In Inspector, set the Vertical offset FOR CHORD (not Element) to -4.00

Right-click on any barline in Stave 6 ->Select ->All Similar Elements in Same Stave
In Inspector, set the Vertical offset FOR CHORD (not Element) to -4.00

Right-click on any accidental in Stave 6 ->Select ->All Similar Elements in Same Stave
In Inspector, set the Vertical offset FOR CHORD (not Element) to -4.00

Repeat for any other elements that may need to be moved up and generally fine-tune as required

In reply to by underquark

Wow, thanks for this unbelievable work around!
I can totally relate to this. I'm also one of those people who believes anything is possible :D
It's a worthwhile exercise at least just to see if it works for my dyslexic student, and those few ledger lines I can carefully add with sharp coloured pecil.

However! You lost me near the beginning. Your description is very clear but when I do this step:"
"Remove (make blank) Long and Short instrument names Repeat for Staves 2, 3, 4 and 5 with different colours for each." and change the colour they all change.

I started off with the preset page for solo guitar because I didn't see an option for a custom set up. Maybe that's where I went wrong.

In reply to by marsca

Add six instruments to a score. Starting with the first, carry out the instructions to make it only 1 line with no clef or barlines or anything else. Since the instruments have names (by default) and you don't want six names appearing, delete the names. Do the same things that you did to this first instrument to the next 4 but make each line a different colour.

Your "working" stave is the sixth instrument. Enter music as per usual. Then - once done - make its lines invisible, reduce te space between staves to zero and move all the elements (notes, clefs, rests, accidentals etc.) upwards so that the notes etc. OVERLAP the other staves (as opposed to just using a coloured line which will lie on top of everything else).

If you use different scaling (to make your score larger or smaller) then you will need to play around a bit with the Vertical offset of the elements (i.e. how much you move them upwards) to get them to lie properly.

In reply to by underquark

Wow, that is incredible what workarounds are possible in Musescore.

Somehow this topic began to work in me and here's my approach:

If you have LibreOffice or OpenOffice installed and like to work with SVG images then you can export your scores as SVG images and try the attached Musescore_Staffline_Colorizer.odt file.
It will process all SVG-files that are in the same folder.

To get a working PDF out of the result you can import the SVGs in LibreOffice or edit in Inkscape. (Musescores habit of producing one large SVG out of a multipage score makes it a bit more difficult.)

Note: As it is a fast hack you will also get wonderful colored Guitar Diagrams as well :-)

Musescore Staffline Colorizer.PNG

Attachment Size
Musescore_Staffline_Colorizer.odt 16.7 KB

In reply to by musikai


I'm looking forward to trying this too. It looks like another great way to do it.
I work with svg images and I'm not sure how this little program works... Did you write this?
How does your program detect all the separate parts of each line because the svg splits it up so each top line of each bar is a different object....
Please tell more. I'm very curious!!! :)

Ps, I learnt from a dyslexic musician who uses a colour system, to leave out the yellow and use purple instead. That's because of tonal difference, which makes yellow appear to be very different to the rest. If you look at the 5 colours you have here through your eyelashes you will see that yellow is much lighter than all the rest.

In reply to by marsca

Hi marsca,

have you already tried if it works for you?

I also tried to edit the SVGs in Inkscape and saw that each line is dived by the barlines so that would be a lot of editing thus I decided to write this little prog. The stafflines in an exported SVG files can be identified as they are 5 text lines that start with:

polyline fill="none" vector-effect="none"

The little program just goes through the SVG text line by text line and if it finds the 5 consecutive textlines it adds the color info right before the end:


The colors are read from the color boxes in the .odt document so you can customize them as you like :-)

I want to add that generating a PDF out of Musescores "multipage"-SVGs can be achieved quite elegant in LibreOffice: For every page you insert a paragraph with page break and onto each paragraph you insert the same SVG as link, centered horizontally and vertically to page. Then crop out each unneeded SVG page.
I recommend my PicTool extension for that:

It makes editing images more easy:
Just import your SVGs as described then crop it.
For example if your score is DinA4 and has 3 pages then
1st page crop right 42cm
2nd page crop left 21cm and right 21cm
3rd page crop left 42cm

then in PicTool set Size to 100% of Original

Edit: Here's a little updated version. (the colors didn't show in Inkscape)
How can I edit my previous post to replace the file????

Attachment Size
Musescore_Staffline_Colorizer.odt 16.72 KB

In reply to by musikai

Wow Musicai, I'm impressed!
I'm actually learning my first baby steps of programming and this is the first time I've had my own personal (and understandable) experience of why open source is so much better and more sociable. :)
I looked at the file in a text editor. Did you use HTML and javaScript?
I guess not because you did it with an odt file...
Anyway :) you asked if it worked for me. It didn't but I'm not sure if I'm doing it right.
I need to click on the button in the odt file and then when I open the svg file in the same folder it will be colorised? Is that all? Maybe my computer is stopping the script. I'm still using windows ;(

In reply to by marsca

Oops, it didn't work for you?

If you open the odt file do you get a message about Macro-Security settings?
I hope.
For the document to be able to work you must at least set the Security settings to "medium" in:
"Tools"►"Options"►"LibreOffice"►"Security"►"Macro Security"
Then Restart LibreOffice.

Now lets test:
put "Stafflines.svg" from the attachment in the same folder and click "Colorize"-button.
You should see a little progress bar at the bottom.
When it's finished you should have a file called "Stafflines_col.svg" in the folder and it should look like the other attachment.

I tested the odt on Windows and Linux, in LibreOffice and OpenOffice.
The language I used is Basic as I'm also new to programming and this was so easy to learn and use for macros.
As lasconic stated the whole thing needs to be rewritten if the SVG-output of Musescore changes. At the moment it works with Musescore 2.0.2 files.

AND!!!! Can previous messages somehow be edited?

Attachment Size
Stafflines.svg 110.5 KB
Stafflines_col.svg 115.15 KB

In reply to by musikai

I can't see a way to edit posts sorry.

You were right.
I adjusted the settings to medium and the macro works perfectly now!
I also managed to put the svg's into open office with cropping like you described.
Very helpful, thanks :)

In reply to by marsca

Glad you got it working!

A little drawback is the not so perfect rendering quality of the SVGs out of LibreOffice and OpenOffice I'm afraid to say. If you zoom in closely on a PDF you will see that the characters and curved objects are distorted. Somehow LO 4.4.7 and OO 4.1.2 have problems there. I hope that in future versions that will be adressed.
Perhaps a good reason for you to bring Illustrator into action :-)


In reply to by musikai

That's really cool musikai!
Slightly thicker lines is going to help a lot.

I think you said you're a beginner programmer but this seems advanced to me who only knows a bit of javaScript. Can you tell me what other languages one would need to make macros like this? I read a bit about visual basic and it seems to be not the easiest choice...?

I normally would use the photoshop pallet for this but I don't think think libre has all the hex colours as far as I can tell but I'll choose some good colours and let you know.

In reply to by marsca

ah, this is really an encouraging video! And thank you for your very kind words!
To write macros in LibreOffice you can use different languages:
JavaScript, Python or Basic (it's not VB)

Most programmers would use Python or Javascript but I learned to use OpenOffice's native Basic because there are these fantastic tutorial documents by Andrew Pitonyak

If you found good colors you can also just save Musescore_Staffline_ColorSizer.odt with the chosen colors. Or post the hex colors.
You can set any custom color in Libreoffice (also from hex) as seen in the attached image.

Have a good day!!!


In reply to by musikai

Hi again :)

Ah, nice to know it can also be done with javaScript.
I'm going to stick to learning js like a snail for now, but I saved the link because good teachers are better than gold :)

Open office only had a preset selection of colours but I'm on libre office now and have all the colours, which is great.

I was working on the colours, trying to get the right combination, and noticed that I can't get the line thickness to work. Any idea what I'm doing wrong? I've tried different viewing platforms so that's not the problem...

I'm liking musescore more each day. I had a homework assignment to analyse a jazz solo and used musescript for it. It makes music scores feel like clay.

Glad you enjoyed the video. It would be good if more people can use your macro!


Hi marsca,
ah, i suppose you just have to tick that little checkbox besides "Width". I added these checkboxes so widths and colors can be changed independently.

Deepening your skills in JavaScript is a good idea. You will have a much more broader field to play in. Good luck and much fun! :)

In reply to by musikai

I did check the box but I forgot to change the file name for the file path.

So here are the hex colours. I think the tones are similar now.
From the top down:

# e55f5e
# ff8e01
# 8dab17
# 5a9bdf
# a663c4

Sorry, I tried to upload the whole document but my browser had security issues.

Bye for now !

Be well :)

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